Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Residents join fight for fired chief, clerk

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        VILLA HILLS — When Tom Reed's wife died three years ago, he got frequent visits from Villa Hills Police Chief Michael “Corky” Brown.

        “He just came by to see how I was doing,” Mr. Reed said Monday morning, as he watched Mr. Brown's sisters turn the former chief's uniform in to the police department.

        “That's the kind of guy he is,” Mr. Reed said. “He worried about the people in this community. He cared.”

        Mr. Brown, 51, and City Clerk Sue Kramer — the wife of a Villa Hills councilman — were fired Dec. 28 by Mayor Steve Clark, who has not given a reason for the dismissals.

        The firings have energized supporters of both Mr. Brown and Mrs. Kramer.

        After Mr. Clark demanded that Mr. Brown turn in his uniform by Monday, Mr. Brown's supporters went door-to-door in the city Sunday, collecting more than $400 to buy the uniform as well as his badges.

        Mr. Brown — a policeman since 1971 — wanted the uniform so he could be buried in it. Mr. Clark has so far refused the offer to buy the items.

        “Corky Brown commanded the respect of the people by his character and his integrity,” said lawyer Steve Schletker, a Villa Hills resident who supports and the chief and opposes Mr. Clark.

        “He did just a great job, and he shouldn't have been fired.”

        Mr. Brown, who grew up in Elsmere and graduated from Lloyd High School in Kenton County, had been chief of Villa Hills since 1984. Prior to that he worked for the Elsmere Police Department, rising from a patrolman to the ranks of detective and sergeant, and qualified for the Kenton and Boone SWAT team.

        When he joined Villa Hills, the department had just one full-time police officer.

        Today it has eight officers and offers several community outreach programs, including the anti-drug DARE program and a babysitting training program for local youth.

        The department also has a full-time canine unit, a fingerprint expert and a computer system that has served as a model for other small cities.

        In 1993 Mr. Brown was recognized for “outstanding leadership and guidance” by the Northern Kentucky Area Development District.

        A group of residents have banded together to support Mr. Brown and Mrs. Kramer while fighting for their reinstatement.

        “It's just gotten to the point where people are being humiliated by the mayor,” said Councilman Mike Sadouskas.

        Some of Mr. Clark's supporters have said that Mr. Brown became too close to former Mayor Denny Stein and other members of council when there should have been a more formal, professional relationship between the chief and the council.

        But Mr. Brown's supporters scoff at that notion.

        “Corky Brown has been nothing but professional, and what has happened to him is a disgrace,” said resident Lois Hall, who is active in community affairs and the city's historical society.


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